A YEAR OF BOOKS

In January I decided to keep a list of every book I read (for pleasure, not work) throughout 2020.

In total I read 151 books.

I rated each book out of 5 – ratings for each entry are in [square brackets]. The books I’ve read previously are noted [reread].

On International Women’s Day 2019 I realised I needed to support women in the same way that I champion men. I clocked how little work by women I had in my library, admitting (to my shame) that 99% of my favourite writers are/were 20th century white European men. Men have always been more central to my daily life than women and, while that’s not and never has been a deliberate choice, I decided to actively choose to read more work by women and discover new female authors. By the end of last year I’d say 40% of my reading was work by women which was a big leap for me. So…

LOOK AT HOW MANY WOMEN WRITERS I READ/ENJOYED/FELL IN LOVE WITH THIS YEAR!!!!

By my calculations, only 18% of the books I read in 2020 were written by men (and nearly half of those books were rereads (favourites by those dead white men I mentioned above).

So I read 82% works by women, as well as a range of genres: more poetry, memoir, translations of lesser known books, works by indie/debut writers, fiction, scripts, chapbooks and anthologies, long- and short-listed novels, and prize winners by authors from all over the world, choosing traditionally under-represented/unheard writers over dead white men all year long!

I’m delighted with my reading experiences this year – bring on 2021.

Here’s the full list

JANUARY

  1. The Flame – Leonard Cohen [5 out of 5]
  2. Up The Junction – Nell Dunn [4]
  3. Little Weirds – Jenny Slate [2]
  4. This Is Pleasure – Mary Gaitskill [4]
  5. In The Dream House – Carmen Maria Machado [5]
  6. There but for the – Ali Smith [3]
  7. Poemland – Chelsey Minnis [5]
  8. Quit Like A Woman – Holly Whitaker [3]
  9. Zirconia – Chelsey Minnis [3]
  10. Bad Bad – Chelsey Minnis [4]
  11. Lima :: Limón – Natalie Scenters-Zapico [5]
  12. My Lovely Wife – Mark Lukach [4]
  13. The Falconer – Dana Czapnik [5]
  14. Baby, I Don’t Care – Chelsey Minnis [4]
  15. Isn’t Forever – Amy Key [3]
  16. Rabbit – Sophie Robinson [5]
  17. Gather The Daughters – Jennie Melamed [3]
  18. The Bitch Goddess Notebook – Martha O’Connor [2]
  19. Bunny – Mona Awad [2]
  20. The Furies – Katie Lowe [4]
  21. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead – Olga Tokarczuk [5]
  22. Adults – Emma Jane Unsworth [4]

FEBRUARY

  1. Early Work – Andrew Martin [3]
  2. Milkman – Anna Burns [3]
  3. Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton [4]
  4. She Must Be Mad – Charley Cox [2]
  5. Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata [5]
  6. Hold Your Own – Kate Tempest [re-read] [4]
  7. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden – Joanne Greenberg [3]
  8. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair – Pablo Neruda [re-read] [5]
  9. The Ethics of Ambiguity – Simone de Beauvoir [re-read] [5]
  10. The Interestings – Meg Wolitzer [4]
  11. Darkness Visible – William Styron [re-read] [5]
  12. Suicide Notes – Michael Thomas Ford [1]

MARCH

  1. The Blazing World – Siri Hustvedt [4]
  2. Franny & Zooey – J.D Salinger [3]
  3. The Faculty of Dreams – Sara Stridsberg [5]
  4. Bluets – Maggie Nelson [5]
  5. Sleepwalking – Meg Wolitzer [4]
  6. Letters to a Young Poet – Rilke [5]
  7. The Nakano Thrift Shop – Kawakami Hiromi [3]
  8. Rest and Be Thankful – Emma Glass [4]
  9. My Dark Vanessa – Kate Elizabeth Russell [4]
  10. People, Places and Things – Duncan Macmillan [script] [3]

APRIL

  1. Wilful Disregard – Lena Andersson [4]
  2. Childhood – Tove Ditlevsen [5]
  3. Youth – Tove Ditlevsen [5]
  4. Dependency – Tove Ditlevsen [5]
  5. A letter from your sheets // if your sheets could speak – Elizabeth Kemball [5]
  6. Keeper – Jessica Moor [2]
  7. Ugly Music – Diannely Antigua [4]
  8. Too Much and Not the Mood: Essays – Durga Chew-Bose [3]
  9. Shadow Black – Naima Tokunow [3]
  10. Saltwater – Jessica Andrews [5]
  11. How Should A Person Be? – Sheila Heti [3]

MAY

  1. Character Breakdown – Zawe Ashton [4]
  2. La Belle Ajar – Adrian Ernesto Cepeda [3]
  3. Starling Days – Rowan Hisayo Buchanan [5]
  4. Heating + Cooling: 52 Micro Memoirs – Beth Ann Fennelly [4]
  5. The Lost Night – Andrea Bartz [2]
  6. Green Girl – Kate Zambreno [5]
  7. Territory of Light – Yuko Tsushima [4]
  8. High Society – Ben Elton [4]
  9. Rabbits for Food – Binnie Kirschenbaum [5]

JUNE

  1. Heatstroke – Hazel Barkworth [3]
  2. The Lightness – Emily Temple [2]
  3. Create Dangerously – Albert Camus [re-read] [5]
  4. Wild Nights: New & Selected Poems – Kim Addonizio [4]
  5. The Discomfort of Evening – Marieke Lucas Rijneveld [5]
  6. Bukowski in a Sundress – Kim Addonizio [4]
  7. The Writing Life – Annie Dillard [3]
  8. Good Morning, Midnight – Jean Rhys [re-read] [5]
  9. Make it Scream, Make it Burn – Leslie Jamison [3]
  10. Coming Undone: A Memoir – Terri White [3]
  11. Thin Skin – Emma Forrest [2]

JULY

  1. Tennis Lessons – Susannah Dickey [3]
  2. Sylvia – Leonard Michaels [4]
  3. The Couple Next Door – Shari Lapena [2]
  4. Shelf Life – Livia Franchi [2]
  5. Everything Under – Daisy Johnson [2]
  6. The Grief of the Sea – Jennifer Edgecombe [5]
  7. Pew – Catherine Lacy [4]
  8. Black Cloud – Juliet Escoria [5]
  9. Tampa – Alissa Nutting [3]
  10. Broken Sleep Books Anthology – ed. Aaron Kent [5]

AUGUST

  1. These Women – Ivy Pochoda [4]
  2. Katerina – James Frey [1]
  3. Peach – Emma Glass [4]
  4. Exciting Times – Naoise Dolan [4]
  5. Sweet Days of Discipline – Fleur Jaeggy [5]
  6. Hot Little Hands – Abigail Ulman [2]
  7. He Is Mine and I Have No Other – Rebecca O’Connor [2]
  8. Death in Her Hands – Otessa Moshfegh [2]
  9. Things We Have in Common – Tasha Kavanagh [2]
  10. Life of the Party – Tea Hacic-Vlahovic [4]
  11. Nowhere To Be Found – Bae Suah [3]
  12. Year of the Monkey – Patti Smith [4]

SEPTEMBER

  1. Veronica – Mary Gaitskill [4]
  2. A Girl’s Story – Annie Ernaux [5]
  3. Glorious Rock Bottom – Bryony Gordon [4]
  4. Dwelling insanity – Yash Sanghvi [1]
  5. Widow Basquiat – Jennifer Clement [re-read] [5]
  6. The Heatwave – Kate Riordan [4]
  7. Rheuma – William Gee [5]
  8. Imperfect Women – Araminta Hall [1]
  9. A Moth To A Flame – Stig Dagerman [4]
  10. Brixton Hill – Lottie Moggach [4]
  11. Supper Club – Lara Williams [5]
  12. Poverty Safari – Darren McGarvey [3]
  13. Reality Hunger: A Manifesto – David Shields [re-read] [5]
  14. The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer [5]
  15. The Woman Destroyed – Simone de Beauvoir [re-read] [4]
  16. A Spy in The House of Love – Anais Nin [re-read] [5]
  17. Weather – Jenny Offill [5]

OCTOBER

  1. Dept. of Speculation – Jenny Offill [re-read] [2]
  2. Where The Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens [4]
  3. Mourning Diary – Roland Barthes [re-read] [5]
  4. A Very Easy Death – Simone de Beauvoir [re-read] [4]
  5. Nadja – Andre Breton [re-read] [5]
  6. On The Shortness of Life – Seneca [re-read] [4]
  7. Boy Parts – Eliza Clark [5]
  8. Ghosts – Dolly Alderton [1]
  9. Loyalties – Delphine de Vigan [3]
  10. My Thoughts Exactly – Lily Allen [3]

NOVEMBER

  1. Crossing the Water – Sylvia Plath [re-read] [4]
  2. Harmless Like You – Rowan Hisayo Buchanan [4]
  3. The Custard Heart – Dorothy Parker [3]
  4. Based on a True Story – Delphine de Vigan [3]
  5. How To Write It – Anthony Anaxagorou [5]
  6. Tristessa – Jack Kerouac [re-read] [5]
  7. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox – Maggie O’Farrell [3]
  8. The Haunted Reader and Sylvia Plath – Gail Crowther [2]
  9. The High Moments – Sara-Ella Ozbek [4]
  10. This Book is Brought to You by My Student Loans – Megan J. Kaleita [4]
  11. Skint Estate – Cash Carraway [5]
  12. I’m From Nowhere – Lindsay Lerman [3]
  13. Lanny – Max Porter [5]
  14. Nil Nil – Don Paterson [3]
  15. Godspeed: A Memoir – Casey Legler [4]
  16. Nothing Holds Back the Night – Delphine de Vigan [5]
  17. Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows – Stephen J. Golds [5]

DECEMBER

  1. Out of Touch – Haleh Agar [3]
  2. Hurricane Season – Fernanda Melchor [5]
  3. Men Without Women – Haruki Murakami [3]
  4. Beside the Sea – Veronique Olmi [5]
  5. Blue Ticket – Sophie Mackintosh [5]
  6. Serious Concerns – Wendy Cope [3]
  7. Melmoth – Sarah Perry [3]
  8. Shuggie Bain – Douglas Stuart [4]
  9. Last Vanities – Fleur Jaeggy [4]
  10. The Existence of Amy – Lana Grace Riva [3]

6 Comments

  1. The only one I read on the list was Melmoth – which I rate about the same. You could try Sayaka Murata “Earthlings” I really enjoyed that one :) Merry New Year HLR! <3

    1. I could post that book to you HLR if you like – I shan’t be reading it again, its one of those books you don’t need to read twice 🙂 If you’re interested drop me a line

      1. That’s so kind of you, OF! 😁 I actually have it on my kindle, hoping to get around to reading it really soon. Thank you for offering though!! X

      2. Well you’re most welcome HLR – I’m reading her book Convenience Store Woman now, she’s such an easy read, while she’s quite minimalist everything is loaded with depth – I think I’m sort of in love wit her, its a nice feeling! :)

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